By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

PHILIPPINE STOCKS wiped out their gains on Thursday as profit takers entered the market and fear of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic prevailed.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) erased 420.45 points or 7.07% to close at 5,525.60 yesterday. The broader all shares index also dropped 181.60 points or 5.11% to 3,370.13.

“The steep decline… shows that the local market is not really on a stable footing yet as investors continue to grapple with the uncertainties brought by the coronavirus,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a text message.

“While a dim outlook for the economy is already expected, the question here is how dim could it get? The duration of the COVID-19 spread in our country is still undetermined, and consequently, the depth of its impact on the local economy,” he added.

In the Philippines, confirmed cases have reached 5,453 as of Wednesday afternoon, where 349 have died and 353 have recovered.

Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said the negative sentiment of investors was driven by the decline in US economic data for the month of March, sounding the alarm on the economic impact of the pandemic.

Philstocks Financial’s Mr. Tantiangco added the drop was led by profit takers after the local market has kept its uptrend for the past month.

“(As of Wednesday), the local market was already up by 28.61% from its March 19, 2020 close of 4,623.42. A 1,322.63-point worth of gains in a little less than a month (made) it ripe for profit taking which occurred (yesterday) amid the economic worries,” he said.

All sectoral indices gave up their gains yesterday. Property led as it lost 264.74 points or 8.62% to end at 2,804.54 at the close of trading. Holding firms removed 385.90 points or 6.59% to 5,466.67; services fell 76.86 points or 5.82% to 1,242.63; industrials shaved off 413.75 points or 5.35% to 7,315.24; financials decreased 61.47 points or 4.87% to 1,198.53; and mining and oil dropped 178.90 points or 3.68% to close Thursday’s session at 4,671.25.

Value turnover inched up to P9.29 billion from Wednesday’s P9.10 billion. Some 679.82 million issues switched hands.

Decliners beat advancers, 153 against 50, while 38 names ended unchanged at the session’s close.

Foreign outflows ballooned to P2.14 billion yesterday from Wednesday’s net selling worth P1.37 billion.

“The selling had conviction today with net value turnover (net of block sales) registering P8.01 billion, higher than the year-to-date average of P5.90 billion. Meanwhile, net foreign outflows were strong posting P2.14 billion, adding fuel to the overall selling pressure,” Mr. Tantiangco said on Thursday.